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Art of the Show Competition Winners Circle: Attendee/Booth Interaction

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The IAEE Art of the Show Competition’s Attendee/Booth Interaction category evaluates any entertainment/activity offered at a show booth to engage attendee interaction. Judging criteria includes: creativity and overall appeal of the activity; effectiveness in drawing attendee participation into the activity; and resulting lead generation from booth visits.

In today’s IAEE Art of the Show Competition Winners Circle, we highlight the winners of last year’s Attendee/Booth Interaction category:

Under 75,000 nsf
a2z, Inc.
a2z, Inc. at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition 2016


a2z, Inc. is a long-time exhibitor at Expo! Expo! IAEE’s Annual Meeting & Exhibition. The challenge the company faced in 2016 was how to build upon, and surpass, the success of the previous years. The company felt it needed to create an unforgettable “wow” experience for attendees who have come to expect new and unique engagement initiatives from a2z.

Another unique challenge for a2z was that because of its established presence in the industry, many Expo! Expo! attendees already utilize some of its services and tend to assume they know what a2z does. With three big new product innovation launches planned for the 2016 event, a2z needed a next-generation, multi-sensory engagement strategy that would make the attendees curious enough to visit its booth not just once but multiple times, and also bring their peers with them to join in the fun.

a2z tackled these challenges by creating an attendee engagement program which consisted of branded, IOT-enabled and controllable LED wristbands, each with two bright RGB LEDs and the ability to display different LED colors. All the wristbands were fully controlled from a DMX control system, managed by a2z’s team on the show floor. These wristbands were sound and motion-activated and could be configured to flash at different speeds (e.g. slow, fast or steady).

A branded, LED overhead signage structure could be similarly controlled to light up or flash in different colors. a2z’s team distributed the bracelets to a large number of attendees at the opening party the day before the exhibition hall opened, as well as in the opening hours of the show.

The IOT-enabled gamification and engagement program was designed with the following key objectives:

  • Reinforce a2z as an innovative company that completely “gets” cutting-edge tech.
  • Bring repeat traffic to a2z’s booth on the show floor.
  • Increase engagement time in the booth to more than 5 minutes per attendee.
  • Gain press and social media mentions.

An hour into the show, a2z’s team triggered the DMX control, making all the bracelets flash the same color all around the exhibit hall. The overhead display was also set to match the same color. This was a signal to attendees to join the five-minute jam session in a2z’s booth and collect their gift card in a random drawing. Some lucky winners walked away with gift cards worth $150, $100 and $50 at each jam session. Everyone who participated got at least a $5 gift card at each session.

The first jam session was a tremendous hit with the attendees and set the tone for the rest of the time on the show floor. This gamification effort engaged 500+ attendees in a2z’s booth with the synchronized jam session and distributed 1,000 gift cards. Many attendees made multiple visits to its booth, waited patiently for their turn in the random drawing and cheered loudly for all the winners. While they waited, they had time to observe and absorb the showcase signage in a2z’s booth.

“The post-show recall value of the experience was significant,” said Sr. Director of Digital Marketing Nishita Jain. “Many show organizers attending Expo! Expo! got in touch with a2z after the event to learn more about the solutions used in its traffic builder campaign, as they were eager to replicate the engaging experience for their own attendees.

An attendee who won a gift card tweeted during the event, ‘Thanks for @a2zUserGroup Christmas came early’ and a2z’s booth was highlighted with multiple photos in the Expo! Expo! post-show online photo gallery. a2z’s engagement campaign was also highlighted by Connect Association in a blog titled 5 Attention-Grabbing Trade Show Booths. We definitely met our goals!”

Between 75,001 and 200,000 nsf
Freeman for Brocade Communications Systems, Inc.
Brocade at Dell EMC World 2017


Dell EMC World is Dell Technologies’ flagship event bringing together technology and business professionals to network, share ideas, and help co-create a better future. The 2017 event was the first time the Dell Technologies family of brands was all in one place, at one conference. The event attracted more than 12,000 IT practitioners and business leaders who are making Digital Transformation a reality.

Brocade at Dell EMC World was an interactive brand experience created to promote Brocade’s products and engage IT professionals and business leaders. Brocade Communications Systems, Inc. collaborated with the Freeman team to design an attendee journey with multiple engagement points in the 40×40 expo space during the three-day expo. As a trusted partner of Dell EMC technologies, Brocade wanted to leverage its brand experience on the expo floor with three objectives:

  • Drive traffic to raise awareness, and influence behavior by creating high engagement level with customers, partners, and Dell EMC.
  • Showcase strategic partnerships to promote joint solutions, and exhibit industry leading collaboration for best-of-breed technology solutions.
  • Position Brocade as an innovator and thought leader for IT transformation in the Modern Data Center.

Highlights of the collaboration include:

  • Attendees were invited to take a fun six-question “persona quiz” to identify their IT persona such as Stable, Agile or Flash Ready. The quiz included a question to match participants with a Brocade technology solution. Participants were then directed to one of four informal product demo areas for a brief personalized Q&A. After completing the demo, participants received a complimentary T-shirt with the iconography of their persona. Each shirt was roll-wrapped in paper containing information on additional booth activities.
  • A presentation theatre, located on a main aisle near the expo hall entrance, provided nearly three dozen 30-minute product demos. After completing the theatre demos, participants were given a lottery-style scratch card with a chance to become an “instant winner” of prizes including Beats earphones, Amazon Echo, or Nintendo Switch.
  • During the opening reception, Brocade served complimentary adult beverages in branded cocktail glasses which attendees could keep. Brocade also pumped up the party atmosphere distributing branded sequin fedora hats with flashing LED lights to celebrate the first night.
  • On the second day, Brocade hosted two in-person book signings where attendees could receive a complimentary copy of NVMe signed by author Curt Beckmann.
  • Each of the three days ended with a raffle of Amazon gift cards ($100 value). Participants were required to return to the booth at the end of the day, wearing the complimentary persona T-shirt.

The Brocade brand experience exceeded expectations. “Wall-to-wall people in the #Brocade booth! #DellEMCWorld2017,” exclaimed a Twitter user. Key metrics included:

  • More than 2,000 Brocade-branded persona T-shirt distributed to attendees who participated in a brief or in-depth product demo.
  • More than 1,660 attendees completed the persona quiz, which turned out to be a fun conversation starter for product demos and throughout the conference.
  • More than 1,000 Brocade-branded sequin fedora LED hats were distributed on opening night and attendees were spotted wearing the hats on the Vegas strip each night.
  • More than 1,700 NVMe books were distributed, including 303 signed by author Curt Beckmann during two in-person book signings on the second day.
  • More than 910 attendees participated in brief product demos, which allowed Brocade to collect proprietary data on products that generated most interest.
  • More than 900 attendees watched the in-depth sessions in the presentation theatre, which included 12 partner presentations.
  • More than 125 entered the daily raffle to win one of five Amazon gift cards. Each contestant returned at the end of the expo hours wearing their Brocade-branded persona T-shirt.
  • Badge scan technology was used for all personalized interaction, allowing Brocade to efficiently collect valuable data on participants and product demos.

“We were very pleased to partner with Freeman to develop and execute a new brand experience at Dell EMC World,” said Melissa Osburn, Brocade’s Senior Manager, Global Events. “In addition to all the fun, engaging activations, we were able to position Brocade as an industry thought-leader and collect valuable insights for current and future product promotions.”

Over 200,001 nsf
Freeman for AARP
AARP Block Party at the Philadelphia Flower Show 2017


Started in 1829 by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, the Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event attracting more than 250,000 consumers and businesses. The AARP Block Party is a travelling exhibit that engages attendees with interactive experiences related to AARP’s programs and mission. Since its introduction in 2016, the AARP Block Party has traveled to more than two dozen cities. From skateboarding and lip-synching to dancing and fashion tips for the workplace, attendees are introduced to a unique and fun side of AARP.

AARP partnered with Freeman to develop customized outreach that provides opportunities for attendees to experience the range of AARP programs. Previous stops at community events include the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Atlanta Dogwood Festival, Fiesta San Antonio, Jacksonville Jazz Festival, and San Francisco Lunar New Year, among others.

Each community event celebrates AARP’s key message of “Real Possibilities” by creating personalized engagements designed to highlight the benefits of AARP membership. Activities focus on different AARP programs relevant to that community such as healthcare, work and jobs, retirement, travel, money, home and family, entertainment, food, politics, and auto maintenance and safety.

As a generation, Baby Boomers (those born between 1946-1964) have redefined what it means to grow older. Many are planning to defer retirement, sometimes developing secondary career paths. Most are staying active, both physically and mentally, and are looking for ways to maximize their resources. AARP has evolved to meet the needs of the new generations of older adults with programs focused on civic engagement, care giving, technology, innovation and brain health.

The AARP Block Party series seeks to challenge outdated beliefs and spark new solutions so more people can choose how they live and age. The multi-city initiative is designed to engage local attendees at popular community-based events, often open to attendees of all ages. A key objective for each Block Party, customized for each city, is to generate awareness of AARP’s services and to engage attendees in unexpected ways. In addition, AARP wanted to highlight its collaboration with Google in a way that was a natural fit for both organizations.

The AARP Block Party headed indoors for the Philadelphia Flower Show held 18-19 March 2017. The Sky Bridge, connecting the Philadelphia Convention Center show floor and Grand Hall, was transformed into an engagement hub for attendees of all ages. Freeman created a garden themed area including faux grass flooring, large floral graphics, and vibrant colored messages. Attendee engagement offered four distinct zones including:

  • Petal Power: A stationary bicycle equipped with a drum-shaped container that spins as the attendee pedals. Different colored paint was added to the drum as the speed of the pedaling produced various shapes and designs to create personalized works of art. The interactive activity also promoted the value of bicycling for both transportation and exercise.
  • Budding Technology: Attendees imagined “Virtual Possibilities,” powered by Google through virtual reality (VR). Participants took home their very own free Google cardboard VR viewer that could be used on personal mobile devices. This area also promoted AARP services to set future goals, find fulfilling work, make lasting relationships or find their purpose in life.
  • Putting Down Roots: A small staging area offered demos on floral arrangements, shaping bonsai trees and general gardening tips. Attendees could also take photos using fun props and post the images on social media using the hashtag #DisruptAging. The photos with a purpose provided an opportunity to change the conversation about aging, a key message for AARP.
  • Make Philly Bloom: Attendees completed wish cards with ideas on “What can you and AARP do to make your community a better place?” The cards were placed on wishing trees and later collected by the AARP staff for review. The area featured picnic tables, a hands-on art experience for guests of any age and AARP branded colorful messages.

Nearly 20,000 attendees of all ages engaged in the AARP brand experience. This included many families with young children who enjoy the annual Flower Show. As such, all four zones were designed to be family-friendly. With high-tech VR, a low-tech photo booth, a no-tech giving tree and gardening demos, AARP offered something for everyone. The interactive activities allowed AARP staff and volunteers to engage with attendees by simply asking “Did you know…” and talk about AARP programs without sounding like a sales pitch often found at B2B trade shows.

Many attendees experienced VR for the first time and took home a Google-branded VR viewer. “It surprised me that AARP had virtual reality,” said one attendee. “It’s not something I would normally put together,” remarked another attendee referring to the VR demo. By collaborating with a well-known technology leader, AARP was able to interact with attendees in unexpected ways to change perceptions of ARRP and aging, in general.

“The AARP Block Party is a great way to engage local communities where they live,” said Diana Kurnit, Director Event Strategy & Services. “The Philly Flower Show is one of the most popular community events of the year. We were excited to partner with Freeman to deliver the garden-themed brand experience that exceeded our expectations to interact with the diverse group of attendees.”

The 2018 IAEE Art of the Show Competition is now underway – you have until 14 September 2018 to submit your entries! Check out all the winners from the 2017 competition.

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